• Tanya Tomkins
  • August 13, 2013

Spontaneity in Music/Music in the Vineyards

Music in the VineyardsHaving spent every day rehearsing and performing with some of my favorite musicians at Music in the Vineyards Festival last week, I finally had a breakthrough of sorts. Is classical music suffering from drops in audiences and funding because we have gotten too rigid in the way we play these great masters?

The renowned violist, Paul Neubauer, performed gypsy music (yes, on a viola!) at one of the wineries Friday night. As I sat in the audience, watching him invent every sound in the moment, literally walking through the audience as he did it, playing with such joy and freedom that the audience was gasping with delight, it came to me — all music needs to be played this way!

So much of our training as classical musicians is aimed toward getting the perfect tone, to play the rhythms “correctly,” to play in tune, and to play together. But really I don’t think when Dvorak and Schubert or Beethoven wrote their chamber music pieces they were hoping for any of these things from the players. There is so much spontaneity and freedom in this music as well, and when it sounds improvised rather than rehearsed and “perfect” it feels better to play and is better received. Such was the case in the two pieces I was lucky enough to perform in with, among others, Paul Neubauer, Axel Strauss, and Michelle Djokic. I felt as though Paul’s gypsy music floated into our approach of the classical pieces. We had so much fun in each moment, and to me that is the definition of a successful performance.

Thanks to Daria and Michael Adams for putting together such a great festival!

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